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What Is A Mezuzah
Though Mezuzah literally means doorpost in Hebrew, it refers to a scroll of parchment containing the Shema, placed on the doorpost. A Mezuzah at the entrance to a Jewish home recalls the biblical commandment to inscribe God‘s words on the doorpost of your house. The Mezuzah is the hand inscribed parchment with two portions of Torah. The two portions of Torah written on the parchment are the Shema Deuteronomy 6:4-9: Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our G-d is one Jehovah. And thou shalt love the LORD thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart….And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. The second portion is Vehaya Deuteronomy 11:13-21 with a similar meaning. The person who writes on the parchment is called a Sofer who is trained to inscribe the Mezuzah in the same manner and script as the Torah. Any mistake makes the mezuzah invalid. Tradition holds that Mezzuzot, the plural of Mezuzah, should be hung at every doorway in the home, except those leading into bathrooms and closets. A Mezuzah bears usually the letter Shin that is the first letter of the Shema. The letter Shin is also the first letter of Shomer Dlatot Israel meaning The Guardian of the Doors of Israel. In the spirit of Hiddur Mitzvah, the principle of enhancing a Mitzvah through aesthetics, artist started to design Mezuzah cases in many shapes using different materials such as wood, ceramics, stone, metals, textile, glass, and resin. Thus the Mezuzah case evolved into a piece of Judaic art. People have different tastes and are particular about placing an art object in there doorway that is why the case you choose should be a reflection of your individuality and personal taste, or in the case it is a gift reflecting the recipient taste.
See an example
Mounting the Mezuzah
In order to protect the written Parchment it is stored in a protective Mezuzah Case. The Mezuzah becomes a beautiful piece that draws the eyes to it and shows how important we consider this piece of religion. The person who writes on the parchment is called a Sofer who is trained to inscribe the Mezuzah in the same manner and script as the Torah. Any mistake makes the mezuzah invalid. Before affixing a mezuzah to a doorpost, the following blessing is recited: Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the universe, Who sanctifies us with holy commandments and commands us to fix a Mezuzah. The mezuzah is placed in the following way: on the right doorpost as one enters the room; at the bottom of the upper third of the doorpost in shoulder height; in a slightly slanted position so that the top points toward the inside of the room. There is a dispute as to whether the Mezuzah should be placed horizontally or vertically. According to the Ashkenazi tradition, the Mezuzah is placed on a slant, with the upper part of the Mezuzah facing towards the room to imply that G-d, symbolized by the Mezuzah is entering the room. Thistrradition is also kept by Spanish and Portuguize Jewes. Contrary to this tradition most non-Ashkenazi Jews affix the Mezuzah vertically.
The Letter Shin
Not every Mezuzah has the letter Shin inscribed on them yet most Mezuzah cases will bear the letter Shin, the 21st letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, on the top. The significance in the letter Shin has more than one reason: This letter is the first one in Shaddai one of the names for G-d. It is the first letter of the Shema prayer and is also the first of the three letters that you'll see often on a Mezuzah case that mean Guardian of the Doors of Israel, Shomer Dlatot Israel The letter Shin on the Mezuzah is a constant reminder of these three explanations and is usually added in an elaborate way on the Mezuzah. Moreover, the text of the Shema Deut. 11:13-21 is written on a scroll of parchment that is inserted into the Mezuzah case. The first letter is Shin that is thus enhances by writing it on the Mezuzah case. To see a beautiful example of a Mezuzah with the Shin letter as an eye catching element please go to the link below.
see Shin Mezuzah